<Home/Articles/6 of the best places to visit in Brazil

6 of the best places to visit in Brazil

|

Enormity is something Brazil does very well; the humongous Amazon rainforest, magnificent Iguazu Falls and the sprawling Pantanal all cover the South American country and spill into its neighbouring nations. With resplendent cities and a colourful, music-led culture, it’s also bursting with personality as big as its size. With that in mind, a trip to Brazil can be somewhat overwhelming to plan, and you may be wondering where to even start. 

That’s where our locally-based travel experts come in. As they’re based on the ground, they’re your one-stop-shop for all advice regarding your dream Brazil vacation. Whether your priorities are to immerse yourself in the Brazilian rainforest or to dance the samba alongside the Rio Carnival parades, your Brazil itinerary can be catered exactly to you. 

To inspire you with the possibilities, we’ve collected some of the best places to visit on a trip to Brazil. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime… 

Surfing on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

What better place to start than Brazil’s effervescent capital, Rio de Janeiro. From its street art to its culture of sports, samba music and high-flying rainbow flags, Rio is a city of unapologetic diversity and striking contrasts. It’s known by locals as Cidade Maravilhosa (‘the Marvellous City’), and it’s little wonder why.

First-timers should head to Mount Corcovado for stunning city-wide views – you can hike if you’re up for the challenge, or take the scenic train which travels through the lush Tijuca forest. As you approach the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, you’ll see why its open-armed, 38 m-high silhouette that towers over the city is one of the proudest symbols of Rio.

Of course, an unmissable draw is the 4 km-crescent of coast that’s a round-the-clock hive of activity: Copacabana Beach. Flocks of beach-going bodies both local and international come here to stroll, socialise and sip caipirinhas in the sun, while local kids congregate to play soccer from morning until evening.

Elsewhere in the city, admire the gorgeous, coloured mosaics of the Selaron Steps, Chilean artist Jorge Selarón’s symbol of love and devotion to Brazil. For another awesome vantage point of the city, take the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain – the best atmosphere comes at sunset. 

If you’re lucky enough to visit during Carnival season (February and March), be prepared for electrifying crowds as streams of samba schools pass through the Sambadrome in a dazzling procession of costumes and floats. It’s incredible to witness and an iconic event; still, if you come out of season you’ll have a wonderful time, as the Sambadrome is used for big musical performances for the rest of the year. 

Colourful Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Pantanal

A wildlife wonder and the world’s largest wetland, most of the Pantanal is situated in Brazil – but at 210,000 sq km, it even reaches into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay. The uniquely watery ecosystem here makes it home to an extraordinary array of animals, many of which you can encounter up close – majestic jaguars, giant otters, anteaters, capybaras, and over 500 species of bird such as the glorious hyacinth macaw. 

The unusual surroundings are ripe for various outdoor activities. Try your hand at piranha fishing, take a boat trip to a jaguar hotspot, or watch for sharp-eyed caimans sleuthing in the still waters. If you’re into birds, you’ll be endlessly entertained – the sungrebe, southern screamer and iconic toco toucan are among the very vocal birdlife hanging around here. 

If you have the time, you can delve deeper into the Pantanal in search of its rarer creatures, such as the jaguar – but worry not: if you’ve only a day or two, given the dense concentration of animals here, you’ll still be guaranteed some incredible sightings. Chat it through with your locally-based travel expert who can advise on the best entry point and duration of a trip to the Pantanal.

two toucans in a tree

Salvador, Bahia

The centre of Brazil’s Afro-Brazilian community, Salvador is the capital of the Bahia region, and a stunning, spirited city you’re sure to love. Festivals are a frequent occurrence as music and celebration are a huge part of the culture and heritage here – making this a grand alternative if you miss the famous Rio Carnival (keep an eye out for capoeira performances, a sort of musical blend of martial arts). 

The city’s historic neighbourhood Pelourinho is a photographer’s dream, with pastel-hued churches and cobbled streets that are joyful and evocative. Its history isn’t so bright, however, as Salvador was a primary colonial trading hub for the Portuguese, where enslaved Africans would be gathered and sold. UNESCO-protected Pelourinho is one of the best-preserved examples of a former slave-trading centre now transformed by the music, cuisine and religion of the once-oppressed; a strong Afro-Brazilian heritage permeates the city and is celebrated and honoured. 

After a dose of education, slow down on the city’s pristine beaches to round off the day – the amenity-heavy Porto da Barra, perhaps, or the more laid-back Jaguaribe Beach to make your stop in Salvador one of history, celebration, and relaxed contemplation.

City centre in Salvador, Brazil

Iguazu Falls

One of the most immense sights in Brazil and on the planet, the Iguazu Falls are simply astonishing to behold. The chain of epic falls is almost 3 km long, the sheer size of which emotes a booming, cascading display that really encapsulates nature’s relentless power. 

Iguazu hovers on the border between Brazil and Argentina, with some glorious rainforest in-between, and you’ll find plenty to occupy your time here. Spend it viewing the falls from different viewpoints along the 1,200 m island trail – it’s brilliantly designed for visitors to stop and admire plenty of jaw-dropping angles, and finishes at the spectacular ‘Devil’s Throat’ for a final panoramic perspective you won’t ever forget. 

Remember, you’ll get very wet – so pack as if you were walking into a rainstorm! Alongside simply witnessing the falls, you can take a boat ride, go white-water rafting, or indulge in some bird-watching.

large waterfall with bridge

Lencois Maranhenses National Park

Another stupendous natural marvel, the stunning landscapes of the Lencois Maranhenses are well worth a visit. The site is a protected national park, covering a 1,550 sq km expanse of white, undulating sand dunes dotted with turquoise pools. This results in other-worldly scenery that is sublime, yet almost eerie in its emptiness. 

The countless lagoons are rain-fed, so become larger in the rain season between January and July. The best time to visit is the dry season, when the visual contrast between water and sand is most stark. Visitors can swim in the pools at this time, explore mangroves, get around in a 4×4, or hike along the sparse desert dunes, passing only the odd cacti or seabird. When swimming, you may encounter turtles and intriguing aquatic plants. A local guide can take you to the best bathing pools, as they’re easiest to get to by jeep. 

lagoons on the salt plains

The Amazon Rainforest

For a Brazilian adventure of legendary proportions, you can’t beat an expedition into the Amazon rainforest. The raw and remote wilderness of the Amazon is synonymous with early man and Mother Earth’s unbridled power, and it still holds so many secrets – with species of flora and fauna yet to even be discovered. 

This jungled heart of Brazil is home to some of the most supreme of wildlife: jaguars, anacondas, rainbow-coloured macaws, howler monkeys, Amazon river dolphins and red-eyed frogs; yet also indigenous communities that have lived in harmony with the forest since before the birth of modern civilisation. You may see some, most or none of these things, and that doesn’t make an adventure here any less worthy. If you absorb every moment, it’s an incomparable experience being among the sights, sounds and smells of nature in its rawest form.

Many visitors will enter the Amazon through Manaus, the area’s largest city – and you can traverse specific areas via river boat trips, jungle treks and guided tours. It’s a given that the site is vast, so discuss your priorities with a local guide to get the most you can from a trip to the Amazon.

Amazon river winding through the rainforest

Make it happen

These are just some of the phenomenal excursions Brazil has to offer. Chat with our local experts as you plan your once-in-a-lifetime tour of Brazil; they’re on the ground and ready to help coordinate the perfect itinerary for you.

Get inspired

Here's some articles to inspire you...

Unveiling Namibia: a beginner’s guide

20 May 2024

Our guide to the Namib, oldest desert on Earth

19 May 2024

A heritage guide to Laos

13 May 2024

Book with confidence
99% of reviewers recommend us